Energy is an essential part of our daily life. We are highly dependent on energy to keep our societies running. Not only does it enhance quality of life of individuals, it also provides the necessary foundation for technology development for the betterment of lives. Currently, our main source of energy comes from fossil fuels. In face of the blooming world population, the demand for energy is ever increasing. The scarce nature of these non-renewable resources, however, urges the need of long-term solutions to the foreseeable energy crises. The gradually exhausting non-renewable resources, such as coal and petroleum, alone are no longer sufficient to meet such an enormous need. New directions and innovations are needed to cast us a way-out.

Energy storage


To tackle the energy crisis, researchers have developed many ways to extract renewable energy from Nature, such as solar energy, geothermal energy, and tidal energy. Nevertheless, many sources of renewable energy share the same problem that energy generated cannot be stored easily, and people have no control over when they wish to use it. For example, the use of solar energy is limited to daytime only. In fact, energy storage is also essential to non-renewable energy, as it ensures that no energy is wasted when the energy demand is less than the supply. Chemists, therefore, are devising new methods for energy storage in form of chemical energy.



Recent research directions


Control methane emissions    link

Natural gas is one of the major energy we rely on. To prevent unburnt hydrocarbons like methane, catalytic converters are installed in different plants to foster energy generation. However, it is observed that some catalytic converters do not function well and lead to low enhancement. Therefore, another catalyst, a single palladium atom on a cerium oxide support is designed to remove 90% of unburnt under even low temperatures.


Thermal energy storage development and its design     link
The mechanism to store thermal energy differs depending on the type of thermal energy storage (TES) material used. For sensible heat storage (SHS) materials, the heat storage mechanism is based solely on material temperature variation. Increasing and decreasing temperatures imply heat storage and heat release procedures, respectively, for instant heat storage purposes. For latent heat storage (LHS) materials, the heat storage mechanism is based on both temperature difference and the heat of fusion, which is a considerable latent heat value at the melting point without an egregious temperature difference. This makes LHS materials suitable for short-term or daily heat storage purposes. For thermochemical heat storage (TCHS) materials, the heat storage mechanism lies in their heat-dependent reaction and sorption capabilities during hydration and dehydration processes, which are suitable for seasonal heat storage. In other words, TCHS materials become dehydrated in warm times of the year to store heat, and in the winter, they release heat through hydration using the moisture existing in the air.


Phase change nano-inks: the future of energy efficient climate control in buildings & cars  link 

Researchers have developed phase change inks using nanotechnology to control temperature and provide passive climate control, reducing energy consumption. With manufacturing interest, the inks could reach market in five to 10 years. The breakthrough was achieved by discovering how to modify vanadium oxide (VO2), one of the main components of phase change materials.


Northvolt to bring sodium-ion batteries to European market   link

A sodium ion cell invented by Northvolt, a battery developer, is much safer and cost effective compared to the traditional lithium battery, currently, this cell is trying to apply on cars. The cell uses carbon as an anode and Prussian white as a cathode. Prussian white is a complex ion that highly raises the performance, stability and substantiality of the cell.

Energy harvesting


The global energy demand has been increasing exponentially over the decades. However, the supply of fossil fuels is limited. Therefore, there is an urgent need to search for more sustainable energy sources and ways to improve energy production and usage efficiency. In this aspect, chemists not only help to design and build more efficient energy harvesting systems but also propose innovative ways to extract energy from waste. For instance, designing solar cells with higher quantum efficiency.


Recent research directions


Mechanical intelligent energy harvesting    link

The mechanical intelligent wave energy harvesting system has the potential to support self-powered Internet of Things (IoT) applications in marine environments. This opens up opportunities for autonomous and continuous monitoring of marine ecosystems, resources, and conditions.


Thermoelectric energy harvesting and its application on IoT devices  link

Capturing and converting energy from the surrounding environment into electrical power that can be used to charge batteries or directly power electronic devices. Making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach for powering IoT devices and wireless sensor nodes.


Micro-Energy Harvesting in the World    link

Micro-energy-harvesting systems, which deliver power on demand, are becoming increasingly popular due to environmental concerns, reduced energy consumption in processors and wireless connectivity systems, and improved efficiency. These systems, which include harvesters, aim to eliminate batteries in IoT devices.